“Over the top baked ziti recipe loaded with over 10 different cheeses, 3 kinds of meats, fresh basil, garlic and onions. It’s truly restaurant quality that’s easy enough for a weekday and good enough for company!”
My mother use to love to make baked ziti. It was her go-to dish on Wednesdays when she had to hurry to choir rehearsal but still wanted us to have a hot, homemade dinner.
She’d whip up her famous baked ziti, twist some canned biscuit dough and brush them with basil parmesan butter to make them look like mini breadsticks and throw together a simple green salad. I could always tell when it was “baked ziti day” in the house.
That fragrant aroma of fresh basil, onions and garlic traveled all throughout the house and even outside where we were playing. Seeing that bubbling cheese cook away in the oven was pure torture and we NEVER let it cool off before digging in.
It’s a meal I will never forget and I have YET to find another baked ziti recipe that is as good as this one. It’s just the perfect blend of…. EVERYTHING! Maybe I’m biased because it’s the way mom made it : ) I remember everybody asking for this recipe growing up. It was right up there with my grandmother’s yeast rolls.
Even though my mother has passed, every now and then I’ll run into a childhood friend and they will remind me of what an amazing baked ziti my mom use to make. That’s when you know you have a special dish!
Strangely enough I probably only make baked ziti once a year. Not sure why, probably because there is just no way I can make it as special as she did. I feel blessed to be able to share this recipe with you guys and relive some great childhood memories of eating this delicious baked ziti almost every Wednesday.
Watch me make Mom’s Easy Baked Ziti recipe from start to finish!
- 1 lb. ziti noodles, prepared ( a little under al dente.)
- 1 lb. ground breakfast sausage (I used Jennie' O turkey)
- ½ cup pepperoni, diced (I used turkey)
- 3 oz Italian sausage, diced (I used Archer Farms Italian chicken sausage)
- ½ cup onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 14.5 oz can basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes ( I used Hunts)
- 12.5 oz homestyle Marinara sauce (I used Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro)
- 12.5 oz Three Cheese Spaghetti sauce (I used Bertolli)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 3 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded, divided (I used Sarengto's 6 cheese Italian which is smoked Parmesan, mozzarella, asiago, fontina, Romano & Provolone)
- 1 cup mixed cheddar cheeses, shredded ( I used Kraft's Triple Cheddar blend)
- 3 oz smoked gouda cheese, sliced thin
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Prepare the ziti according to package, except cook it a little under al dente.
- Rinse with cold water to cool noodles, drain and set aside.
- In a large deep skillet, brown the meat over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic, and Italian seasoning and cook until onions are slightly tender.
- Drain the fat and return to heat
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce.
- Reserve a cup of meat sauce for later use.
- Bring sauce mixture to a light boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- In large bowl stir together beaten egg, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, 1-2 tablespoons fresh basil and 1½ cups of Italian blend cheese.
- Toss in the noodles and stir gently until noodles are coated.
- Add in the reserved cup of cooled meat sauce.
- In a 9x13 casserole dish spread out a thin layer of meat sauce.
- Top with half of the noodle mixture.
- Next layer on half of the meat mixture.
- Sprinkle with the mixed cheddar cheeses and then lay on the slices of smoked gouda.
- Top with the remaining noodle mixture and remaining meat sauce .
- Top with remaining Italian cheese blend.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly!
- Garnish with lots of chopped fresh basil.
- Let baked ziti sit before serving.